Striking a Balance in Research Design

One of the healthy outcomes from the rise of social media and mobile research is that it has balancebrought to the forefront the issue of the balance of power – or control – in research design.  Method specialists who are proponents of social media or mobile research often assert that a big advantage of these approaches is that the participant, not the researcher, controls what is shared or not shared.  Qualitative researchers, for example, have discovered the value of Pinterest where, without any researcher involvement, they surmise the hobbies and characteristics of individuals that represent some segment of the population.  And a mobile qualitative research study empowers the participant to select when, where, and how (in what format) information is provided to the researcher.  The researcher may start with a few basic questions but it is the research participant (knowingly or not) who controls the input.

This participant-leaning balance of power is in contrast to other qualitative research – face-to-face focus groups and in-depth interviews – as well as quantitative survey research where the researcher drives the course for the research with carefully-considered Read Full Text

Standing the Discussion of Rotation in Qualitative Research on its Head

Qualitative researchers are pretty good at distancing themselves from their quantitative colleagues, even to the point of bragging about their anything-goes right-brain sensibilities in contrast to the structured life of quantitative.  So it boggles the mind when qual researchers so easily embrace certain quantitative concepts.  One such concept is the randomization of stimuli in survey design in order to reduce primacy and recency effects.

I touched on this briefly in a February post when I discussed the relevance of cognitive-process theories in qualitative research (“Qualitative Research & Thinking About How People Think“).  In that post, I argue that “the concept of primacy and recency effects are irrelevant in focus group research and, while randomizing the presentation order of stimuli is de rigueur in quantitative, not so in qualitative.  To the contrary, I would suggest that not randomizing across group sessions adds a necessary component of control.”

So, why is a “component of control” important Read Full Text & Find Out Why

The Role of Controls

Back in 1997 I wrote an article for the American Marketing Association concerning control issues in research design.  The AMA titled the article “Control is elusive in research design” and it is as pertinent today as it was all those years ago.

The article talks about the important role control plays in the college research lab – how students learn that the integrity of research findings rests in large measure on the level of controls built into the designs – and contrasts this to the Read Full Text